In the school Eisteddfod, I was the red house captain, so I got a bunch of people together who played a bunch of different instruments to do a cover of dEUS’s Suds & Soda for the rock band category.
Naturally, we won, since including a violin and keyboard alone was enough to dazzle the room and it was easily the highlight of my school years.
Unbeknownst to me, this was not the only Eisteddfod event. Sure there was this one in front of the other school kids, with the rock band category being the only one most people (i.e. me) gave a shit about, but once that day was complete, it wasn’t over. What many outside of the competition didn’t know is that in addition to this event, there is also a special later event for the parents where the winners of all the categories play to them so they can congratulate themselves on raising such talented children, or not as the case may be.
As house captain, I asked the rest of the group if they were available for the parents’ performance, and about half of the group wanted nothing to do with it as it was way too uncool for their image. As someone who was resoundingly uncool, I found this news very frustrating, but no matter what I said, those who weren’t interested wouldn’t change their minds.
Instead of making a contingency plan, I thought that as the time approached, they’d eventually come to see my way of thinking, so decided to make no plan B whatsoever.
Fast forward to the day before the event and now we have barely a band, no drummer, and no plan or song. There was no way we were going to be able to do Suds & Soda with this skeleton crew so I accepted it was time to create a plan B.
Creep by Radiohead. I would play drums.
I didn’t have a drumkit, nor play drums but I figured that Creep was an easy enough song to play based on the slapping of thighs and tapping of feet that I had done along to it at home. We had no alternative, so it was either this or nothing.
The next problem was finding a drumkit.
Well unbeknownst to most of the schoolkids, after explaining my dilemma in computing class, smelly Mr Jenkins revealed that the school, in fact, owned a drum kit. He did, however, say that it was not in the best of states and that if we had any other option, we should go with that. I assured him that the beat was simple enough that the most rudimentary kit would be sufficient, so he showed me the kit.
The cymbals were literally split in multiple places, there were holes in the snare skin and all of the toms, but the best part of all was that at some point a long time ago, the bass drum pedal had broken off its beater (is that the term?), and in an attempt to repair it, someone had duck taped a glockenspiel beater to the kick drum pedal mechanism, which looked so pathetic it was laughable.
Undeterred, I went ahead and set it up with smelly Jenkins’s help anyway.
The rest of the band could play Creep in their sleep since it’s such a simple song anyway, but I was nervous as fuck on the evening itself. It would be my first drum performance and it would be on the worst drumkit of all time. The only time I’d played drums before was sometimes when the drummer from my real band would go for a wee.
With my eyes down, trying to make as little eye contact with anyone as possible, we started playing the song.
Surprisingly it didn’t actually sound that bad to start. Not good, but under the circumstances, could be worse. However, something started happening that no-one had told me about. It turns out that drumkits tend to have things like a bit of carpet under them as the physical force of hitting them can cause them to slowly move a bit. This creates friction and stops them from moving. This drumkit was directly on the smooth wooden planks of the stage. As I started playing, the kit crept forward bit by bit until my leg was fully outstretched and my arms could just about reach. Whenever there was a gap in the drums, I’d quickly try to pull the kit back, realise it was too heavy and cumbersome, so instead, just pulled my stool closer to it.
Essentially, while the band were playing the song there was the added interest of watching the drums wandering slowly around the back of the stage, the same drums with a bass drum sound that was reminiscent of someone flicking an empty pack of crisps.
We ended up getting to the end (technically) and even got an applause from the parents at the end, but I can only imagine the parents who didn’t know the back story wondering “How fucking bad must the rest of the bands have been!?”.